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Nightingale - "Retribution" (CD)

Nightingale - "Retribution" CD cover image

"Retribution" track listing:

1. On Stolen Wings
2. Lucifer’s Lament
3. Chasing The Storm Away
4. Warriors Of The Dawn
5. Forevermore
6. Divided I Fall
7. The Voyage Of Endurance
8. Curse Or Coincidence?
9. The Maze
10. Echoes Of A Dream

Reviewed by on February 9, 2015

"For Swano fans who weren't on the Nightingale train previously, you have to go into this album realizing this is the less-heavy Swano project, and it is most definitely not Edge of Sanity or Bloodbath by any means."

After the smashing success of his genre-combining Witherscape project, Dan Swano returned to the long-dormant Nightingale, and the result is “Retribution,” a melodic and rock-focused release. For Swano fans who weren't on the Nightingale train previously, you have to go into this album realizing this is the less-heavy Swano project, and it is most definitely not Edge of Sanity or Bloodbath by any means.

Although lacking the death metal elements, opening track “On Stolen Wings” feels very much like it belonged on Witherscape's “The Inheritance,” which should come as no surprise as Swano has stated several of the songs were originally written for that album. This is both good and bad, because it provides a point of reference and results in a compelling mix of sounds, but there are also songs that go so far into the softer direction that they don't always keep up interest for their full lengths (“Lucifer's Lament” for instance).

The overall sound of “Nightingale” lands somewhere between melodic metal and prog rock, but its more straightforward and less avant-garde than many of the prog leaning metal bands go for. If you dig solid hooks and classic rock/metal guitar work, you'll be right at home, although a little infusion of something heavier or more unexpected from time to time would have been very welcome.

On the songs that shine despite a lack of heaviness, “Chasing The Storm Away” has a retro '80s vibe with its melodic riffs for a fun mix of old and new, and the vocal flourishes and lyrical content make it seem like “Curse or Coincidence” was probably also meant for “The Inheritance.” Fifth track “Forevermore” also throws in a sudden upbeat piano piece alongside the throaty and full-bodied vocals for a surprising mix that works better than it should. “Divided I Fall” on the other hand is composed of acoustic strumming and what sounds suspiciously like a tambourine, packaged with low key singing. The song isn't technically bad, but it seems strange to put a softer ballad interlude on an album that's already much softer overall.

While still an entertaining listening for those who enjoy the more melodic side of metal, anyone who was blown away by Witherscape's mixing of sounds may be left wanting something more by the time the album ends, especially knowing how great this specific sound works when mixed with death metal.

Highs: Swano's vocals are killer as usual, and the song structures frequently exude a Witherscape feel.

Lows: The lack of heaviness is very noticeable, especially after this exact sound was so recently mixed with death metal on Swano's other project.

Bottom line: Nightingale finally returns for a melodic prog rock / classic metal experience.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)